South Sudanese government yet to show "meaningful concern" for citizens

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Secretary-General António Guterres (left) addresses the Security Council. At his side is Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom and President of the Security Council for March.

The government of South Sudan has "yet to express any meaningful concern" for its own people, or take any responsibility for ending the violence that's left the country on the edge of the "abyss".

That's according to UN chief António Guterres, who addressed the Security Council on Thursday.

He said that regional African organizations together with the Council, needed to "speak with one voice" in order to make South Sudan's leadership change its ways.

The Council adopted a Presidential Statement calling on all warring parties to "immediately adhere to a permanent ceasefire".

Matthew Wells reports.

The humanitarian and political crisis afflicting the world's youngest country continues to deepen, the UN Secretary-General warned.

Mr Guterres pointed to nearly 2 million internally-displaced; more than 220,000 huddled inside protection sites run by the UN Mission in the country, UNMISS, and around 1.6 million forced to flee across neighbouring borders.

Political and ethnic-based conflict between forces loyal to the President and his former deputy has led to economic ruin, and contributed to a humanitarian crisis where 100,000 are enduring famine, and 5.5 million may be food insecure within months.

The UN chief said the UN and other international bodies had raised the alarm, without success.

"The Government has yet to express any meaningful concern or take any tangible steps to address the plight of its people. On the contrary, what we hear most often are denials – a refusal by the leadership to even acknowledge the crisis or to fulfil its responsibility to end it. The peace process remains at a standstill." 

Mr Guterres said the government continued to place obstacles in the way, delaying the deployment of a Regional Protection Force, and "massively" raising the cost of aid workers' permits. 

Atrocity crimes occurred with impunity he said, and for every child who dies, there is an angry parent "plunged into sorrow and prone to seek revenge."

"All the optimism that accompanied the birth of South Sudan has been shattered by internal divisions, rivalries and the irresponsible behaviour of some of its leaders. As a result, a country that had seen a brief glimmer of hope for a better future has plunged back into darkness. We have to do everything in our power to change this." 

Matthew Wells, United Nations. 

Duration: 1’44″

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